Twins at School: Same or Separate Classrooms?

Twins at School: Same or Separate Classrooms?

Education March 12, 2012 / By Nancy L. Segal
Twins at School: Same or Separate Classrooms?
SYNOPSIS

Twins classroom placement is a great concern to parents and educators. An argument for parental input into this important decision is made.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself—I am DR Nancy Segal, Psychology Professor at California State University Fullerton. I am also Director of the Twin Studies Center at CSU Fullerton. I will be contributing town-related commentaries and news form time to time.  Please visit my web site for more information about twins and my published and forthcoming books on the subject:  drnancysegaltwins.org.

I will begin this blog with a topic of great concern to twins and their families: separate vs. same classrooms.

At the start of each school year I receive requests from a good number of unhappy parents whose young twins are being placed in separate classrooms. Parents say that despite explaining to school administrators that their twin children work well together, enjoy each other’s company and/or do not wish to enter a new situation on their own, school officials remain unsympathetic. Their reasoning is unusually that twins kept together will fail to develop a sense of individuality. Therefore, I was gratified that parents in Minnesota took it upon themselves to have this policy changed. They did so by engaging the interest and support of a state senator and his legislative assistant who were also parents of twins. The outcome was a new bill that passed unanimously through the Minnesota House (130-0) and Senate (64-0). Since then many other states have passed, or are trying to pass similar legislation; see www.twinslaw.com.

I firmly believe that there should be no single school placement policy for twins, just as there is no single placement policy for non –twins. Interestingly, research shows that when non-twins attend school for the first time with friends, they are more independent and more engaged in activities. No one is concerned that these children will not develop a sense of individuality. There are many options that teachers can exercise if twins stay together, such as having them work in separate groups or sit at separate tables. Often they just need to be aware of where the other one is.  This is more common among identical then fraternal twins, but can be true of twins of any type.

I have been a consultant on a number of cases involving identical twins wrongly accused of cheating.  Identical twins think alike and process information alike, so when they deliver tests with similar answers, there may be suspicions of cheating on the part of their teachers and professors.  This is wrong, as the research shows.  However, I would suggest that when twins are in the same class that they sit far apart to avoid even an appearance, of collaboration. More on this topic can be found in the journal TWIN RESEARCH AND HUMAN GENETICS, to which I on a regular basis.

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